Education in the 21st Century: Grant may bring 220 iPads to Hagen Junior High School in DickinsonA $70,000 grant could lead Dickinson students toward the electronic age. The Dickinson Public School Board voted unanimously to submit a grant to the North Dakota Educational Technology Council Monday at a special meeting at the Central Administration Office. The money would be used to purchase 220 iPads for eighth grade students at Hagen Junior High School, or one per student.
By: By April Baumgarten, The Dickinson Press
A $70,000 grant could lead Dickinson students toward the electronic age.
The Dickinson Public School Board voted unanimously to submit a grant to the North Dakota Educational Technology Council Monday at a special meeting at the Central Administration Office. The money would be used to purchase 220 iPads for eighth-grade students at Hagen Junior High School, or one per student.
“The teachers at Hagen are very excited about all the possibilities,” Melanie Kathrein, director of curriculum and professional development. “It’s (about) how we can change education.”
The special meeting was held so the grant could be approved for the Dec. 2 deadline. Kathrein said a decision on the grant would be announced Jan. 6. If the grant is successful, students could be doing their homework electronically at the beginning of the next academic year. Students would be allowed to take iPads home during the 2013 school year, according to the application timeline.
The grant specifies the evaluation of the project’s effectiveness. If the results are positive, administrators plan to expand iPad use to grades seven through 12.
IPads can give students more of an interactive experience while learning, Kathrein said. It also could help Dickinson schools go paperless.
“Almost all of (Pearson Education Inc.) books are now available for iPad,” she said. “I think that we certainly could move away from a paper environment.
After purchasing cases, applications and other equipment for the grant, Kathrein estimated the total cost at more than $157,000, leaving the board to supply the additional $87,000. Though board members were concerned where that money would fit into the budget, DPS Assistant Superintendent Vince Reap said that would not be a problem.
“Anytime we can find significant purchases that impact student learning to the level, which I think this grant will, it’s pretty easy for me to urge the budget committee to find that money somewhere and make it happen for the sake of kids,” Reap said.
Another concern was implementing iPads in schools. Kathrein suggested teachers be required to survey use of iPads in class. However, she added that this would be a new form of teaching.
“We are going to have to give the teachers some time to get used to it and develop some lessons,” Kathrein said. “There has to be some push, but not so much that it gets overwhelming.”
Other schools in Dickinson are utilizing iPads. Each classroom at Heart River Elementary School has two iPads for student use, said Merrill Fahlstrom, a speech language pathologist at Heart River. She uses it for a variety of tasks — keeping and managing student process, handwriting, dictation and listening to and watching media.
“When kids don’t know the word, they can touch the word and double-check to see if they were right,” Fahlstrom said.
Though Fahlstrom said she didn’t see any disadvantages to using an iPad in the classroom, she believes it would not replace teachers. She would also recommend its use to other schools.
“Even my youngest students are able to use it,” she said. “They can be used in every academic area.”
IPads have also helped diversify instruction at Heart River, fourth grade teacher Marni Neubauer said, helping students use 21st century tools to gain knowledge.
“Our students are really getting to be more technologically savvy than most around because they use technology everyday,” Neubauer said. “The more we can incorporate technology into the classroom the better.”